This race had a really reasonable start time of 6:55 AM! I was so happy to not have to get up at 4:00 AM, which is what generally has to happen on race days <<sigh>>. My alarm went off at 5:00 AM and I got dressed.
This race started at Civic Center Park in downtown. It was so dark, and so cold, but the buildings were all lit up and there were tons of people milling around. I found the gear check area and, as usual, got in line for the port-a-potties.
So, off I went. I started the race and, as usual, the first mile or so was a mess. People were weaving in and out, trying to get past walkers and people running four or five across. I didn't feel the best as I completed the first two miles and even came to terms with possibly getting a DNF (Did Not Finish).
As I finished mile four, both of my lower legs cramped up very severely. Every step felt like a stabbing pain in my calves, Achilles, ankles and shins. I was in really bad shape. I kept trudging along and then, in front of me, I saw a woman with "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" on the back of her t-shirt. I decided to say a little prayer and, no kidding, I started to feel better. My cramps started to go away and I felt like my old self again! Through the rest of the race, I repeated this in my head when things got tough and, as you'll see, I not only survived, but I thrived!
I continued running along and realized that, although I hadn't had the best start, I was on pace to meet my goal. Then, out of no where, I saw a pace group (an organized group with a pacer) who were trying to meet the same time goal that I had. Interestingly enough, they had started the race before I had SO, if I stuck with them, I'd be sure to meet, and maybe even break, my goal time.
I ran along with this group for a bit and, wouldn't you know it, my foot hit a hole, or a crack, or something in the pavement and I was launched forward. I was sure I was going to wipe out. Out of nowhere, another runner crossed in front of me at the perfect moment and, instead of falling on the ground, I bumped into him. He didn't fall, and neither did I! Honestly, the angels were looking out for me during this race.
After a few more miles, I got ahead of the pace group. I was feeling so strong and really fast. I followed my fuel and hydration plan to the "T". While this was quite a hilly course, I only walked through the water stops. As I approached mile 11, I decided to pull over and have a few Gu Chomps and stretch my legs. While I was stretching, I hit yet another roadblock. My iPod battery died! Thank God I'd planned ahead and I had my 1,000 year old iPod shuffle in my waist pack. I traded out my iPods and off I went.
During my last 1/2 marathon, I'd missed the sign for the 13 mile marker and was disappointed because I didn't get my usual kick at the end of the race. I just turned a corner and, bam!, there was the finish. For this race, hubby promised me that he'd be at the 13 mile marker so I was sure to see it. I turned a corner and sure enough, there he was. He yelled "you have a quarter of a mile left, you can do it!"I looked down at my watch and noticed that I was 7 minutes ahead of my goal time. I yelled back 'I'm killing it!".
I turned one more corner and there was the finish! Not only was it close, but the last stretch of the race was downhill. I kicked it into high gear and crossed the finish line six minutes ahead of my goal. Instantly, I started to cry, thanking God and my lucky stars for not only getting me through, but letting me triumph. I saw my parents standing on the sidelines and I ran over to them, crying. They thought I was hurt, until I was able to sputter that I'd finished six minutes ahead.
After collecting my bag from the gear check, hubby helped me back to the car and we headed back to my parents' house. Once there, I celebrated with champagne and a delicious breakfast casserole that my mom made. For the rest of the day, we watched NFL (poor Broncos!) and relaxed on the couch.
Beyond the fact that I got a PR and smashed my goal time, this race may be my favorite race that I've run yet. The course takes you trough downtown Denver, past the Sports Authority Field at Mile High, the Pepsi Center, and Coors Field. You also get to run through City Park and Civic Center Park. I absolutely plan to run this race again next year and I absolutely DO NOT plan to get hit by a car beforehand.